Celebrating the Sussex Centenary
Two events were held in September 2017 to celebrate the formation of the Sussex Conference which then became the Sussex Federation of Women's Institutes and was the first County Federation to be formed even before the National Federation.
Lady Denman Remembered
On 21st September a special event was held at the Victory Hall in Balcombe to install a blue plaque in memory of Lady Denman the first Chairman of the National Federation of Women's Institutes who lived at Balcombe Place and was the driving force behind the establishment of the hall after the end of WW1. She was a member of Balcombe WI formed in 1917 and the afternoon was also a celebration of their 100th Birthday.
On 5th September, exactly 100 years to the day of the first Sussex Conference, East Sussex Federation hosted an afternoon tea, attended by members of West Sussex, in the grounds of Great Ote Hall in Wivelsfield courtesy of Carola Godman Irvine the owner of Great Ote Hall.
Celebrations for 100 Years of the WI
The Centenary Baton arrived in West Sussex at the Victory Hall in Balcombe on 6th January 2015 and visited various WIs during the week before being handed on to Hampshire on 13th January.
A "Picnic in the Park" held at Arundel Castle was attended by hundreds of members on a very wet and windy day in May. In true WI style they celebrated 100 years of the WI and were entertained by Henry VIII and a Jazz Band. Many members enjoyed a walk round the Earl's Garden when the rain ceased and the sun came out when it was time to go home!
A Centenary Festival of Flowers was held in St. Paul's Church, Chichester in July. Here are some of the beautiful arrangements donated by various WIs. Tea and cakes were also provided for visitors.
Mary Gwynn, author of the new WI Cookbook, talked about her research into the writing of her book and then signed copies for members who attended the event held at Boxgrove Village Hall. Samples of some of the recipes were available for tasting and a celebratory glass of Bucks Fizz rounded off the morning.
At the beginning of September members enjoyed a Centenary Lunch at Boxgrove Village Hall cooked by a small masterclass of members under the leadership of Maggie Borsberry.
Singleton and East Dean WI was the first WI to be formed in England in November 1915. To celebrate the Centenary of the WI they put on a wonderful exhibition in the Gridshell at the Weald and Downland Open Air Museum at Singleton on 8th September 2015. WIs were invited to enter an exhibit depicting the year they were formed. A walnut tree was also planted in the grounds by Jane Probitts representing the National Federation of WIs.
A Centenary Concert held at the Assembly Hall, Worthing entitled "The Sleeping Giant" illustrated the history of the WI throughout the 100 years. The Federation Centenary Choir was led by Aedan Kerney. Also performing were Brass Fusion and Sidonie Winter. This original piece was written by local actress Charlie Olsen. Archive images were projected behind the choir to revive memories and enhance the drama. A truly wonderful evening.
Federation Annual Meeting
In the Centenary year we were delighted to welcome two inspiring guest speakers to our Annual Meeting held in the Assembly Hall at Worthing. Helen Sharman spoke about her journey into space as the first British astronaut and Julie Summers, author of Jambusters, spoke about the work of the WI in the second world war and the impact on women's lives following the return of the servicemen.
We were also very pleased to welcome NFWI Chair, Janice Langley, who is also a member of Worthing WI to join us for this special meeting.
Contact the NFWI
- Phone: 020 7371 9300
- Open hours: 9am–5pm Mon–Fri
- Address: 104 New Kings Road, London SW6 4LY
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